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Castor Oil in Hair Relaxer Guide

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Castor Oil raises no health concern because:

  • It is not on any of GoodGuide’s lists of toxic chemicals which cause suspected or recognized health effects
  • It has not been detected in human tissue or urine
  • It is not a high production volume chemical that lacks safety data

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From Wikipedia

Ricinoleic acid, a monounsaturated, 18-carbon fatty acid, is unusual in that it has a hydroxyl functional group on the twelfth carbon. This functional group causes ricinoleic acid (and castor oil) to be unusually polar, and also allows chemical derivatization that is not practical with most other seed oils. It is the hydroxyl group which makes castor oil and ricinoleic acid valuable as chemical feedstocks. Compared to other seed oils which lack the hydroxyl group, castor oil commands a higher price. As an example, in July 2007 Indian castor oil sold for about US$0.90 per kilogram (US$0.41 per pound)[3] while U.S. soybean, sunflower and canola oil sold for about US$0.30 per kilogram (US$0.14 per pound).[4]

Castor oil and its derivatives have applications in the manufacturing of soaps, lubricants, hydraulic and brake fluids, paints, dyes, coatings, inks, cold resistant plastics, waxes and polishes, nylon, pharmaceuticals and perfumes.

Sulfonated castor oil, also called sulfated castor oil, or Turkey Red Oil, is the only oil that completely disperses in water. It is made by adding sulfuric acid to pure castor oil.[5] This allows easy use for making bath oil products. It was the first synthetic detergent after ordinary soap. It is used in formulating lubricants, softeners, and dyeing assistants.[6]

The castor seed contains ricin, a toxic protein. Harvesting castor beans is not without risk.[7] Allergenic compounds found on the plant surface can cause permanent nerve damage, making the harvest of castor beans a human health risk. India, Brazil, and China are the major crop producers and the workers suffer harmful side effects from working with these plants.[8] These health issues, in addition to concerns about the toxic byproduct (ricin) from castor oil production, have encouraged the quest for alternative sources for hydroxy fatty acids.[9][10] Alternatively, some researchers are trying to genetically modify the castor plant to prevent the synthesis of ricin.[11]...

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